Radio 1190’s pledge drive has concluded and the campus radio station would like to thank everyone who donated last week. Every dollar has helped the station to stay operational, with which we are grateful. Thanks to Boss Lady Pizza, Illegal Pete’s on the Hill, Nick-n-Willy’s Pizza and Moe’s Bagels for feeding our hungry volunteers, and thank you to thank Altas, Thug Entrancer, Inner Oceans, Slow Caves, Low Body and Dead Orchids for providing live studio entertainment during the drive. For a list of thanks, check out radio1190.org.
Now that spring break is right around the corner, check out these awesome albums and stay tuned to Radio 1190 for all those spring soundtrack needs.
Ever since the demise of At the Drive-In, there has been a lack of post-hardcore in indie circles. But since a breakout from the Boston DIY scene, Pile has not only become a staple for those still waiting for an At the Drive-In reunion, but for rock experimentalists alike.
Following up the critically acclaimed 2012 record Dripping, the group recently released a fifth record, You’re Better Than This. Even though the group follows the same formula that gained so much praise in recent years, the new record is still frantic, visceral and smart. Every track is a perfect case for listeners to reassess the genre tag “post-hardcore.” The instrumentation and style could also be pinned as indie, punk, or even experimental pop. As Pile has done in the past, the guitars are wild, twangy and unpredictable. Each guitar riff and fill is so fun to listen to that it is almost more prominent than the vocals.
But the vocals, nonetheless, are incredibly important to Pile’s unique sound. Though often yelpy and loud, the vocalist never gets noisy enough to be screechy and unbearable. The lyrics are a tad bit nonsensical, but in the grand scheme of the album that’s not what should heed the attention — it’s more about the music. The only real downfall is that there is not much of a progression or stylistic difference from previous records. But this just re-establishes Pile as one of the greatest post-hardcore acts right now and one of the most instrumentally interesting DIY groups out there.
Formed in 1981, Massachusetts psych-rockers Prefab Messiahs originally only released one album, Peace Love & Alienation. Though it didn’t gain much traction upon its initial release, it was reissued in 2011 to welcoming arms from the Southern California garage-rock scene. But come 2015, Prefab Messiahs regrouped to release another record, Keep Your Stupid Dreams Alive.
The new release is a mix of psych and garage and is highly reminiscent of 13th Floor Elevators — but also influenced by college rock bands that emerged from Massachusetts in the ’80s. For obvious reasons, the standout track is the fourth, “College Radio,” which you can probably guess what the lyrical themes are. Even though some of the songs are novelty, the group keeps it interesting by incorporating strange psychedelic sounds and by taking notes from more modern psych bands, most notably ones signed to Burger records. Though the album doesn’t offer anything other bands in the genre haven’t already done, but the album is nicely chaotic and catchy. It’s a perfect soundtrack for taking a psychedelic road trip in a colorful van from Massachusetts to California.
Since it’s spring, now is an appropriate time to listen to Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks. But if you’ve spun that record one too many times, the new album from Chicago folk/jazz experimentalist Ryley Walker , Primrose Green, might be your favorite new spring record.
Organically, Walker is able to mix jazz, folk and blues into a strangely psychedelic and jammy vibe, without sounding like a generic jam band. Much like Astral Weeks, the instrumentation is diverse and lush with stings. Unlike Morrison’s, though, Walker is tight in composition, but also still keeps his songs free-flowing and natural without sounding too rehearsed.
Tracks such as “Summer Dress” beautifully mix jazz and folk with vocals that soar over the instruments in an almost spiritual sense. Obviously, Walker is influenced by the folk singers of the ’70s, but the backing guitar is heavily influenced by psychedelic and noise rock — especially on “Sweet Satisfaction,” which shows that Walker has his roots in the musical past, but his eyes focused on the future. Undoubtedly, as far as mixing folk and jazz, Ryley Walker is a breath of fresh air. He reaffirms that folk is a versatile genre that is not only tied to country and Americana, but can also be mixed with almost anything.
James Calvet is Radio 1190’s music director.